Legendary baseball samurai, Tuffy Rhodes.
Why we like him: Some guys succeed in Major League Baseball and put together a career they can look back on and enjoy, no matter how long or short their career was. Other guys never quite put it all together and fade away into obscurity. Then there are some guys who can't cut it and go to Japan to become somewhat of a legend in the Japanese league.
Tuffy Rhodes came up with the Astros organization in the late 80s/early 90s but really failed to impress after three seasons, and he was released in April of 1993. After just four days as a free agent, the Royals, sensing an opportunity to pounce on yet another lousy outfielder with very little discernible talent, signed him to a contract. The Royals then traded Rhodes to the Cubs in a mess of a three-way deal in which the highest profile player was Paul Assenmacher. He played nearly two years for Chicago before heading to Boston in a waiver deal. At the end of the '95 season, however, Rhodes was granted free agency, and it was becoming clear that his window of opportunity in the majors may have begun closing. It was then that he career began to take off...somewhere else.
In 1995 Rhodes signed with the Kintetsu Buffaloes of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB). By the end of the decade, he had become one of the premier sluggers in NPB. In 2001, Rhodes swatted 55 home runs, tying the legendary Sadaharu Oh for the most prolific home run season in Japanese history. After failing to secure a multi-year deal with Kintestsu in 2004, he was signed by the Yomiuri Giants, the team for which Oh played his entire career. However, due to injury, Rhodes left Japan and tried and failed in an attempt to return to MLB with his hometown Reds. He returned to Japan for three more seasons before calling it a career after the 2009 season at the age of 41.
Regardless of where you play, if you produce, then you produce. Tuffy Rhodes didn't necessarily find a way to get it done in the majors for his 6 seasons, but he is without a doubt a Japanese legend. His final stats in the US: 6 years, .224 average, with 13 homers, and 44 RBI. His Japanese stats, you ask: 13 seasons, .286, 474 home runs (10th all time), and 1292 RBI. Pretty tough. I mean "Tuffy."
Ladies and gentlemen, Tuffy Rhodes, Ballplayer.